Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. V. Nature
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume V. Nature.  1904.
II. Light: Day: Night
Lord Byron (1788–1824)
From “Don Juan”

AVE MARIA! o’er the earth and sea,
That heavenliest hour of heaven is worthiest thee!
Ave Maria! blessèd be the hour,
  The time, the clime, the spot, where I so oft
Have felt that moment in its fullest power        5
  Sink o’er the earth so beautiful and soft,
While swung the deep bell in the distant tower
  Or the faint dying day-hymn stole aloft,
And not a breath crept through the rosy air,
And yet the forest leaves seemed stirred with prayer.        10
Ave Maria! ’t is the hour of prayer!
  Ave Maria! ’t is the hour of love!
Ave Maria! may our spirits dare
  Look up to thine and to thy Son’s above!
Ave Maria! O that face so fair!        15
  Those downcast eyes beneath the Almighty dove,—
What though ’t is but a pictured image?—strike,—
That painting is no idol,—’t is too like.
Sweet hour of twilight! in the solitude
  Of the pine forest, and the silent shore        20
Which bounds Ravenna’s immemorial wood,
  Rooted where once the Adrian wave flowed o’er
To where the last Cæsarean fortress stood,
  Evergreen forest; which Boccaccio’s lore
And Dryden’s lay made haunted ground to me,        25
How have I loved the twilight hour and thee!
The shrill cicalas, people of the pine,
  Making their summer lives one ceaseless song,
Were the sole echoes, save my steed’s and mine,
  And vesper bells that rose the boughs along;        30
The spectre huntsman of Onesti’s line,
  His hell-dogs, and their chase, and the fair throng
Which learned from this example not to fly
From a true lover,—shadowed my mind’s eye.
O Hesperus! thou bringest all good things,—        35
  Home to the weary, to the hungry cheer,
To the young bird the parent’s brooding wings,
  The welcome stall to the o’erlabored steer;
Whate’er of peace about our hearthstone clings,
  Whate’er our household gods protect of dear,        40
Are gathered round us by thy look of rest;
Thou bring’st the child, too, to the mother’s breast.
Soft hour! which wakes the wish and melts the heart
  Of those who sail the seas, on the first day
When they from their sweet friends are torn apart;        45
  Or fills with love the pilgrim on his way,
As the far bell of vesper makes him start,
  Seeming to weep the dying day’s decay:
Is this a fancy which our reason scorns?
Ah! surely nothing dies but something mourns.        50

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